Boyfriend's B-day Dinner Advice needed!
My boyfriend's bday is approaching yet again, and I need some advice on where to treat him for an impressive dinner. I dont want to go somewhere we have been together lately, so the following places are out:
Sotto Sotto (not that you would recommend it anyways)
I was considering Note Bene, or Colbourne Lane, but any other suggestions or thoughts would really be appreciated. Price is no object. We dont have a preference on cuisine, but he doesn't really like anything Indian or anything thats too heavily Asian influenced.
Thanks in advance!
Reporting back on Perigee! Thank you everyone who recommended it, the night was a complete hit! A few notes:
Room: When I made the reservation online I mentioned that it was a bday and that I would like one of the available tables. I was so pleasantly surprised to see that we were seated RIGHT beside the amazing kitchen so that we could watch everything they do. I would DEFINETLY recommend that anyone planning on visiting this spot does make this request.
Service: Wonderful and professional from start to finish. When we arrived, the coat closet was completely full so the hostess offered to lock our coats up in the office so that he wouldnt have to squish them in. I thought that was a nice touch. I guess the only complaint I could have about the night was that the timing was just a little bit on the slow side and but it was still well timed.
Food: We both had the "taste of Perigee" tasting menu ($90 each without the cheese course). We started with some house made breads: an irish soda, a rustic fife flour , and a little poppyseed biscuit all served with olive oil, house churned butter, hummus and a really nice tomato jelly of some sort. We then had:
Amuse: Crab salad on irish soda bread crisp- this is the only dish we werent crazy about. It was just too heavy on cilantro (which we both dont like) and mayo. I felt a bit like I had just taken a big scoop of mayo from the jar.
Corn soup over an avocado roll topped with yogurt gnocchi and marinated cucumber- A wonderful start on a chilly night. The avocado just melted in with the creamy soup and the little puffs of yogurt were a perfect complement with the tang of the cucumber.
Irish Salmon over a rutabaga puree with roasted pears and sauteed brussel sprouts- This was my favourite course. The brussel sprouts were perfectly shaved and paired beautifully with the pears, and the puree had a nice sweetness that paired surprisingly well with the salmon (I dont think I have had salmon served with something sweet before , but it worked well).
Bass filet on sauerkraut with pork belly and poached quail egg- All of the components were really nice but I'm not sure I liked the sourness and vinegar flavour of the sauerkraut up against the saltiness of the pork and egg.
Palate cleanser was a mint "caviar" (mint juice with geletin that had been formed into beads by a dropper) and served with lime and tequila in a refreshing bite. Like a mojito but better!
Lamb loin with roasted turnips, pickled apples and quinoa salad over Harissa sauce and apple puree topped with yogurt "paper"- A really interesting and complex dish, but the flavours really worked well. The pickled apples were amazing- like little bites of the extremely ntensely flavoured sour apple which was balanced nicely by the quinoa. The lamb was also perfectly cooked and the yogurt "paper" seemed like little shards creamy yogurt that just melts in our mouth. I also have to mention the Harissa sauce- the powerful spiced flavour with its vibrant orange colour really pulled the whole dish together.
Roast plum Tarte Tatin over a toffee sauce with house made prunes and tea scented ice cream- The ice creams slight bitterness offset the intense sweetness of the toffee sauce so that the dessert was sweet and satisfying without being too cloying. When dessert came around, they surprised my boyfriend (and me) by bringing us complementary glasses of ice wine and port and a "Happy Birthday" message written on his plate in chocolate. Its nice to know that someone is actually reading those little messages when you reserve online.
In general, the night went absolutely perfectly and I am already dying to return. Both my boyfriend and I decided that the experience was one of the better in our experience. Thank you everyone for all your help!! Next up is MY birthday :)
i'm going on friday, trying to decide whether to go all out and try the omakase vs the regular tasting menu (where you will know in advance what you are getting), might come down to what the regular tasting menu for that night is, and how hungry i am, since the regular tasting menu is less courses. do report back after your meal if you can. enjoy!
I second Charles Yu's recommendation of Scaramouche, and also Bok Choi's suggestion for Nota Bene - I have been disappointed at neither. They offer very different experiences - Scarmouche is gorgeously decadent and very romantic, Nota Bene can't be beat for professional, clean and a reasonably priced meal.
I recently went to Colbourne Lane and with the exception of a wonderful miso black cod dish, I was very disappointed with the food. Service was good and the room was nice, for what it's worth (which is not very much, in my book, unless accompanied by good food...)
How about something more casual? A seafood oriented place like Starfish or Rodney's. Get a bunch of oysters, some stout. Don't know about your boyfriend, but I know I'd love something like that.
Alternatively, a brazilian churrasceria (sp?) where it's all you can eat meat on a sword, and not cheap stuff. There's Red Violin on Danforth. Not sure how good the place is, but could be all right. There's another place, I think, that does that.
Or tapas at Torito? The ability to try many different dishes on your birthday is probably a good thing.
In the romantic vein, Corner House is nice.
Love Rodney's. Best atmosphere in the city, from my experience. Just a great ol' place to relax and enjoy the great bivalves. My most recent visit was a bit stagnant, but before that, the friendly service could not be beat.
I love Nota Bene. Good solid food, great service. A touch loud if there are large groups near you (my most recent table unfortunately being one of the offenders), but if you're off on the side with only small tables, it can be quite intimate.
Nota Bene was so loud when we were there that we couldn't carry on a conversation.
Sushi Kaji is a beautiful, long evening.
I still like George, Celestin, and Zucca.
Good service, and places where you can speak softly, and never feel rushed.
George can occasionally be louder than the others, but nothing like our dreadful experience at Nota Bene, where we could actually feel a vibration from the noise.
erly, larger groups do detract from the romantic atmosphere. Luckily, I don't often dine in large groups so hopefully it doesn't upset too many patrons. I've done my duty to introduce NB to coworkers, and hopefully they'll be dining there (alone) from now on. Large tables do tend to force people (especially obnoxious ones - we had one at our table that I doubt I will be dining with in public ever again - I'm quite embarrassed to be even associated with them right now) to project their voices. I've had a great time each of my visits there, and did not find the noise unbearable. Sorry to hear that your experience was so poor.
Mr. Rab and I went to Colborne Lane for our birthdays last year (we're five days apart so we do the joint-birthday thing). While I agree with Charles Yu that CL is not entirely built-for-romance, I think it's a fun and intimate experience for food geeks because there's lots to share/chat about given the imaginative menu. If you do go to CL, I'd recommend asking not to be seated at the communal table. While CL is definitely more casual than Canoe, etc. I still think it has a more formal feel than Nota Bene, where I would go to snack/drink any old night (so I wouldn't put it in the super-special birthday category).
If it were my birthday, I'd be very interested in Perigee... although (probably because) I haven't been there yet!
For a romantic evening with fine food, I'd like to suggest Scaramouche, Canoe, Truffles or George ( no particular order ). Try getting a window seat at Scaramouche or Canoe, a wall booth at George and an inside table at Truffles. A tasting menu at any of the above captioned establishment will guarantee a nice evening for both of you. Nota Bene has very good food but I found it a bit too noisy for a romantic night-out. Colbourne Lane with Aprile's pseudo molecular tasting menu is a good choice but the ambience lacked the right elements for a romantic evening for two love-birds?!! Guess my posting is more confusing than advise!! Ha! Sorry!!